An Epic Climb & Vintage Beetle

Some days can really only be summed up as a fantastical debacle. Yes – fantastical – since some, although catastrophic, are quite hilarious as well. A day such as this happened last week when I set out to ride to Santa Barbara and climb Gibraltar – a popular climb in the area with an average of 8% over 6.5miles.

The day started off reasonably, although it was chilly enough that I had to employ my knee and arm warmers. I contemplated light gloves, but reasoned it would probably warm up and therefore wouldn’t really need them… Unfortunately for me, it didn’t warm up, but instead began to rain just as I hit the base of the climb. That being said, rain is often welcomed on a hard climb – keeps from overheating!

As the climb went on, the rain persisted, and so did a heavy low fog – I could barely see 10ft in front of me. Gibraltar also has few guard rails, signage and lines on the road – all adding to the sheer epic-ness of the ascent. I also might ad that I had no idea of the grade or length of the climb. It didn’t take long and my sense of time and space was completely warped. As far as my cycling adventures go – I’ve never experienced anything like it. I also think that being solo added to the rush of the unknown and “danger” factor.

Anyways, after 50 minutes of climbing I finally reached the top, where I quickly realized just how cold it was and deeply regretted my decision to leave my gloves at home. I wish I could say the descent was epic ‘good’, but in all honesty I was scared shitless. I was so cold I could barely use my hands to shift or brake. And my inability to see the sharp corners sans guard rails was a major stomach turner – but I sucked it up and embraced the fear. Once I had eased into the sensation of the perilous descent, I got a flat. Being so freakishly cold, with solid ice blocks for hands, I got off my bike to start jumping around and blow into my palms so I might warm up enough that I could attempt to change the tube. This is when a couple in a valiant looking VW Beetle stopped to see if I was okay. I assured them that I definitely was not – seeing how I had been jumping around for a solid 10 minutes and was only getting colder.

They pulled to the side, offered me a blanket and little heater for my hands – the fellow even offered to change my tube. I insisted I could do it once my hands were warm – but he seemed almost insulted that I didn’t think he could do it, so I reluctantly let him go for it. He seemed to know what he was doing – until he attempted to put the CO2 cartridge on the valve, and instantly snapped it off my new tube. Well meaning, poorly executed. Now I was most definitely SOL.

I ended up calling Karlee (who I was supposed to meet in Santa Barbara for my ride home), to inform her of my plight. So she, her coach, and two friends had to detour to pick me up. Once they arrived I was able to un hand the heater and blanket for my dry clothes. But since the heater I was using ran off the Beetle’s old battery – the Beetle wouldn’t start! How comical – the rescuers needed rescuing! We attempted to boost them – no dice. Luckily the guy who owned (and built) the Beetle was able to successfully rewire his corroded battery – and we were able to successfully give it a boost!

A couple interesting facts about the fellow and his Beetle:
1) It’s a 1970’s model that he rebuilt himself
2) He’s a carpenter and woodworker
3) He used his woodworking skills to deck out the interior
4) Apparently there are hundreds of cars like his in California
5) He’s from Orange County

And some pics of the ordeal:

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I should also add, that these photos depict a much more beautiful looking day . Because by the time all this went down, it had cleared up and warmed slightly – leaving me a fool.

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